A lot of fantasy footy pundits advise against drafting players on the assumption that they will gain an extra position eligibility, but not me (I’m no pundit, after all). I like the tactic, and the key to using it is being (almost) certain about a player’s role change, which I’ll admit, can be difficult. For me, the only way to be anything close to certain is to see the role in at least 2 preseason games against other clubs (and some evidence in intra-clubs, but don’t take roles in intra-club matches too seriously). I have found success in this strategy, with 2 recent examples being Dyson Heppell (2021) and Gary Ablett Jnr (2020), who became draft day bargains with their transformation from middling mids to higher rated talents in their newfound position eligibility. A player gaining DPP can also be great trade bait, especially if you have a surplus on the line you drafted them in. 

Agree with my take on the strategy, or don’t. In any case, here are some guys I’ve bumped up my rankings lists (some more than others) because I think they have a slim to great chance of gaining a useful DPP status in 2022.

*NOTE* for a player to gain DPP status, they must start the season with eligibility for only one position (a player starting with dual-position status cannot gain a third eligibility) and play at least 35% game time in another position (for 3 games min. in UF and 6 games min. in AF and SC). 

SCOTT PENDLEBURY

Eligibilty: mid only

Possible Position Gain: defender

Probability: Almost certain 

All the talk of his defensive role has been proven true, with evidence coming from both of Collingwood’s most recent practice matches. He’ll still have time in the middle, but Pendles is 34 this year, and the Pies are rebuilding their engine room whilst blooding their next generation of mids. Pendles will have a chance at being a top 8 defender in 2022 and I’m drafting him as a sliding defensive premo. Even if he does miss out on gaining defender status, he’ll still be a 95 averaging mid, which is a similar output to the mids that are being taken around him anyway. I already have Pendles in the first 2 drafts I’ve completed, and I want more of his stonks. My chips are in on him, and I expect them and more in return.  

CALLAN WARD

Eligibilty: mid only

Possible Position Gain: defender

Probability: some chance?

When the Giants played the Swans in their first preseason hitout, reports were that Ward looked good on a wing (I didn’t see this game). Then in their most recent hitout against Collingwood, he spent the whole game in the defensive half (with no CBAs) and pumped out a delicious score of 118 (AF). Is this the new trend in AFL? To have the gun mids transition into defenders in their twilight? Let’s call it the Matty Boyd Phenomenon. Anyhow, I haven’t heard/seen enough to predict a back status add for Ward, but I love him as a late round flier based on what I’ve seen. 

JYE CALDWELL

Eligibilty: mid only

Possible Position Gain: forward

Probability: a slim chance

In the first practice match, Caldwell started mostly forward but wasn’t stationed there, moving through the middle and still being around the ball. In Essendon’s second game (sans Shiel and Merret in the second half), he had more midfield clock, attending 12 CBAs, second only to Parish. I wouldn’t advise reaching for Caldwell based on DPP potential here, as the current situation is nebulous, but definitely watch his role in the opening few rounds. 

ANDY MCGRATH

Eligibilty: mid only

Possible Position Gain: defence

Probability: good chance

There has been convincing evidence in both of Essendon’s preseason games to suggest that talks of McGrath’s defensive role is real. He looks great rebounding out of defense and I’m intrigued to see how the Hind/Heppel/McGrath set up looks come round 1. He still attended 9 CBAs and this is one guy I’d reach for given his DPP potential. McGrath could be a top 5 defender by season’s end.

JORDAN CLARK

Eligibilty: mid only

Possible Position Gain: defence

Probability: strong chance

This guy has some 2021-stank and you can get him late in drafts because of it. Clark’s role as a running half-back was observable in both practice games and he looked good doing it. Freo played the hopeless Eagles twice, so take his impressive preseason scoring with a grain of salt, but he should add back status and looks to be a guy we hyped up a year too early. I took Clark at 163 in my home league and as Michael Scott once said, ‘I am ready to get hurt again’. 

MITCH MCGOVERN

Eligibilty: forward only

Possible Position Gain: defense

Probability: good chance

He’s played as an intercepting defender this preseason and has displayed success in the role. Is he the permanent Liam Jones replacement but with fantasy chops? Maybe. Either way, you wouldn’t move him from your forward line if he was to add defender status, so I guess I’m writing this to inform you that he may be in line for a higher scoring role, making him a forward sleeper. 

DAYNE ZORKO

Eligibilty: mid only

Possible Position Gain: defense? forward?

Probability: unlikely

Talk of Zorko reforming his game and becoming a rebounding defender was doing the rounds early in the preseason. He even had a go at the role during one of Brisbane’s intra-club games, but seeing as we have no evidence from games played against other clubs, no accurate predictions can be made here. 

What intrigues me, however, is the chat coming out of Brisbane concerning more variety in their mid-field rotations. If the likes of Berry, Rainer and Bailey do get more mid-time, in addition to McCluggage, Lyons and Neale, could Zorko see time in defence? Could he return to the forward role he’s played in the past? There are a range of outcomes for Zorko this season and the adept drafter will keep an eye on his role. If you see some DPP potential in Zorko that his owner misses, he could be a sneaky good trade target. 

ROWAN MARSHALL (AF & SC only)

Eligibilty: ruck only

Possible Position Gain: forward

Probability: good chance

He is already a r/f in UF, but the probability of Marshall gaining forward status in AF and SC relies upon how much Ryder and Campbell play in the ruck. I do most of my drafting on UF, so he’s going in the top 30 in my leagues, but I see a win/win situation in drafting Marshall on the other 2 platforms. Either Ryder rucks and Marshall gains forward status (with a slightly reduced, but still serviceable scoring output), or he spends the bulk of his time in the ruck and scores superbly. Pairing Marshall with a Hickey/Draper type in the AF/SC formats is definitely a viable play. 

How much you adjust your ranks based on the information I’ve provided here is totally up to you. Maybe I’m trying to be too clever by drafting with DPP presumptions? Just know that I do it with back-up plans and a flexible team blueprint. 

Anyway, lambast/jeer or commend/approve in the comments or over on Twitter: @lionelhutz4prez

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